Posting their best run to date in World Endurance Championship, Strakka Racing and drivers Jonny Kane, Nick Leventis and Danny Watts dominated private team competition and finished third overall in their Honda Performance Development ARX-03a at Saturday’s Six Hours of Bahrain.
The Honda-powered Strakka trio survived both high temperatures that at times exceeded 100 degrees F – and late-race contact with the works Toyota TS030 of Nicolas Lapierre – for it’s first overall podium finish and privateer victory of 2012.
Today’s result at Bahrain International Circuit ensures that Strakka remains in contention for the Privateers’ Championship, with two races remaining. Strakka trails the Swiss Rebellion Racing squad by 27 points as the series heads to Japan and China for the final two events of 2012.
In P2, the American Starworks team of Thomas Kimber-Smith, Enzo Potolicchio and Stephane Sarrazin came out on top of a five-car battle for the class lead in the opening hours in their HPD ARX-03b, and appeared headed for its fourth class victory of the season.
But with approximately 45 minutes remaining, during the team’s final scheduled pit stop, starter motor failure sent the car to the garage area for repairs. With repairs completed, Sarrazin returned to complete the race and closed significantly on the second-place Signatech entry of Franck Mailleux, but settled for a third-place finish.
Despite the disappointing finish, Starworks increased its lead in the P2 championship to 23 points over the class-winning Oreca Nissan of Pecom Racing, which had come to Bahrain ranked third in the standings. The ADR-Delta team, which came to Bahrain second in the standings to Starworks, suffered a suspension failure early in the race and as a result fell to third in the championship.
Fielding a second privateer P1 category HPD ARX-03a, the British-based JRM team qualified sixth in P1 and had a strong start, but electronics issues resulted in a return to the garage area after just one hour, and a long stop for repairs. The team returned to competition with just over one hour remaining in the contest, but additional issues with the wiring loom resulted in the car’s retirement.
The World Endurance Championship now heads to Asia for the final two rounds of 2012: the Six Hours of Fuji in Japan on October 13; and the season-ending Six Hours of Shanghai, China, on October 27.
Danny Watts (#21 Strakka HPD ARX-03a) started 5th, finished 3rd overall and 1st in the private P1 category: “It’s a fantastic achievement to finish third overall, but of course we weren’t really racing the works Audis and Toyota, we were very focused on trying to win the Privateers’ battle. We are a small team [compared to the manufacturer-run teams], and all the guys put in a huge amount of work to make sure the car is fast and reliable. The [very high heat] conditions this week have been extremely difficult, not just for the drivers, but for all the team members working on the car. They deserve all the credit for this race result, and it will give us the confidence to go to Japan knowing exactly what dedication and hard work can achieve.”
Allen Miller (Principal Engineer and Large Project Leader, Honda Performance Development) on Saturday’s race at The Bahrain International Circuit: “What a fantastic effort by the entire Strakka Racing team! It was a faultless run, despite the extreme conditions, and a well-earned privateer victory and first WEC podium finish. Starworks also deserved a class victory today, as they steadily built a significant lead after the first three hours. Unfortunately, it appears the high ambient temperatures resulted in a problem with the starter motor during their final pit stop. Third place seems like poor reward for their outstanding performance today. Electrical problems also prevented JRM from achieving a good result today. We’ll look over the data from today’s race to prevent these problems in the future, and to help all our teams achieve the best possible results as they continue racing for WEC Championships at the remaining two events in Japan and China next month.”